By CONG B. CORRALES, Associate Editor .
IT may have been a case of typographical error but a veteran journalist had a field day pointing it out on her blog.
Journalist Raissa Robles posted on her blog site www.raissarobles.com on Thursday that the Department of Justice cited a wrong law — a law that was meant for Misamis Oriental — in its resolution on the prescriptive period for the filing of a cyber libel complaint against Rappler’s Maria Ressa.
“Under RA No. 3326, which governs the prescription of offenses punished by special laws, such as RA No. 10175, the prescriptive period of the offense charged is twelve (12) years (Sec. L (d), R.A. No. 3326, as amended). Clearly, the 19 February 2014 publication has not prescribed,” the DOJ resolution reads in part.
Robles said RA 3326 does not contain the prescriptive periods of crimes but a law creating additional posts for prosecutors in Misamis Oriental province.
The law is entitled “An act creating four additional positions of assistant provincial fiscal in the province of Oriental Misamis, amending for this purpose Sec. sixteen hundred seventy-four of the administrative code, as amended.”
Robles stated on her blog that the justice department may have referred to Commonwealth Act 3326 which is an “act to establish periods of prescription for violations penalized by special acts and municipal ordinances and to provide when prescription shall begin to run.”
She said the error, however seemingly benign, makes the arrest of Ressa on Tuesday unlawful.
Robles said she asked constitutional law professor Antonio La Viña about the implications of citing the wrong law to justify Ressa’s arrest and was told: “It makes the arrest even more unlawful.”
She said Commonwealth Act 3326, which states that the prescriptive period of the offense charged is 12 years, has been superseded by RA 4661 ratified on June 18, 1966.
This law, Robles explained, specified that “The crime of libel or other similar offense shall prescribe in one year.”
“So, that is a problem. Under RA 4661, even the revised article of Rappler should no longer be the subject of libel litigation by February 19, 2015.
“And yet, Maria Ressa was arrested yesterday … justified by citing the wrong law and not taking into account that the prescription period for the crime she is accused of has already lapsed,” Robles pointed out.